In the days leading up to Super Bowl 51, I overheard many coworkers, friends, family and neighbors discussing their plans for the big day: parties, get-togethers, pre-game, commercials, half-time show. I heard about which team’s defense was better. I heard about what kind of food would be served at which party. I read media coverage about the anticipated half-time show. People asked me about my plans. “I’ll probably just watch it from the comfort of my own home,” I told people, “no plans to go to any party.”
“That’s good,” they would assure me, “that way you can focus on the game and not be distracted by other people at the party.”
I didn’t necessarily lie, because at the time they asked me, there was a slim chance I would, in fact, watch the game at home. Maybe if I literally had nothing else to do. But mostly I was lying. I had no desire to watch it. I know there are plenty of people out there who dislike football, and sports in general, and wouldn’t watch it anyway. That’s not me. I like sports. But lately I’ve been starting to realize how fake and over-commercialized many sports are. There is no sport in the USA more over-hyped and over-commercialized than Pro Football. Thus, I had no desire to watch the Super Bowl, but I didn’t tell them all that.
I could have told them that I was boycotting it because my hometown team didn’t make it in the playoffs. I will admit that if my hometown team had made it to the Super Bowl, I would have been very tempted to watch it. In large part because I started this blog, and started this anti-pop journey, I felt that it would be hypocritical of me to watch what is arguably the biggest pop culture phenomenon in our society.
So let me tell you what I did instead with my time.
We ate dinner together as a family. After that, I spent about an hour playing with my kids. We wrestled and played Marco Polo in the basement (the land version, not the swimming pool version). I gave my daughter a piano lesson. I played cars with my son.
After that, my wife joined us while we all read a book together as a family. The book was a beautifully illustrated children’s version of one of the classics. We got lost in the pages filled with tales of old England. My kids had tons of questions and we patiently answered all of them. We spent about an hour doing that.
After that, my kids begged to watch something on TV, so we relented and let them watch a 20 minute show. While they watched TV, my wife and I were able to have a conversation about an important decision that we are facing. After the show was over, we put them to bed and now I am writing this blog post.
It was a wonderful evening with the people I love the most. And it would not have been possible had I insisted on participating in a pop culture “requirement”. I could make the argument that I spend plenty of time with my family on other days of the week and the Super Bowl only comes along once per year. But at the end of my life, what am I going to remember: the football games I watched or the quality time I spent with my wife and kids? What memories do I want my kids to have: their dad on the sofa watching football games, or their dad playing with them, teaching them and interacting with them?
Busy people always complain about not having enough time. But how much of your potential time goes toward things that provide zero value to your life, like pop culture? I was able to buy myself four hours of time by refusing to participate in the Super Bowl. I spent those four hours very wisely, in my opinion.
To those people who say that the Super Bowl is a good excuse to get together with friends to have a party; I say, how sad that you need the Super Bowl as an excuse. Good friends shouldn’t need an excuse of any sort to get together. Just do it.
Hopefully the NFL’s ratings and viewership will continue to decline next year, for no other reason than it means that more people are getting their lives back. As long as they don’t just waste it on some other pop culture craze.
Tomorrow, I’m sure my coworkers are going to be talking about the Super Bowl and ask me what I thought of it. I’ve decided not to lie. I’ve decided to be honest about what I’m doing. I’m going to tell them that I’ve made a New Year’s resolution not to consume any more pop culture. I will tell them that if they are up for a game of touch football outside, I’m all for it. But as for Pro Football, I don’t watch it anymore because I’m anti-pop.